It takes at least 3 times of ‘doing’ something before you get it right. Before you figure it out. Before the pieces come together.
You need to work with at least 3 clients before you get clear on who your ideal client is (and isn’t!) Before you understand what you love to do most.
You need to deliver that new package at least 3 times before you land on what exactly to include and what to charge for it. To find the stuff that’s missing, the things that take longer than you thought they would.
You need to do that training program at least 3 times before you land on the final version. The one that includes everything important and that you know gets results for your clients.
We think that we are supposed to get it right the first time around.
That our first client should be the ‘right’ client.
That we shouldn’t run into any snags the first time we deliver on a new package.
That our training program should be perfect the first time around.
It is RARELY right the first time. And putting that pressure on ourselves can mean either:
working so hard to to get it right that we end up not doing anything at all
beating ourselves up when we don’t get it right the first time around, and giving up after that
All we can do in the beginning of any new project, offering or service is do our best, learn and improve. So long as we stay committed to the journey – and give ourselves the freedom to mess up a bit along the way – we will ultimately land where we want to be.
“Help me Tina! I’m too busy and something needs to change…”
I get it. Being too busy isn’t sustainable and doesn’t serve you or your clients. The good news? It’s fixable, so grab your to-do list and ask yourself the following questions.
Question 1: Does this really need to be done? (If yes, now or later?)
We often have things on our to-do lists that either:
don’t need to be done at all – they are ideas, maybes or “wouldn’t it be nice ifs”. They are things we are thinking about, but that we haven’t actually made a firm decision on yet. Ideas are not to-dos – create a separate idea list and get those things off your to-do list!
don’t need to be done NOW if you aren’t strategic about planning ahead, then as a default everything on your to-do list feels like it needs to be done NOW. Work through each item and ask yourself – when does this really need to be done? Could it be put off until next week? Maybe even next month? Take your list and put realistic due dates beside each item.
You should be left with a list of things that are actually do in the next week or so – and a list of things that aren’t due yet (or are ideas and are no longer on the list!)
Question 2: Do I need to be the one to do this?
If you are anything like I was for years, as a default you feel like you must do everything. You are good at what you do. You are used to being the one to get it all done, but now things are starting to fall behind and slip through the cracks.
Run through your list again and ask yourself – could someone else do this for me?Be aware of the following when you answer:
“Well yes, someone else could do this for me but it’s only me so I have to” If you don’t have anyone working with you right now this could be true, and you also have the power to change that. Growth dictates that you will need to hire help at some point – when you do it is up to you.
“But no one can do it as well as me – so I have to be the one to do it” This is a dangerous spot to get stuck in, because as long as you believe it to be true, it is… and it could be the thing sucks the life right out of you. Yes, you may be the best at doing something but that doesn’t mean you can’t train another person to be as good as you or find someone who does it already and bring them on board.
The goal here is simple – identify the things that others could do for you. It doesn’t mean you have to hire a bunch of people tomorrow, but at the very least you can look to give more to the people you have already and plan ahead for getting more support (which becomes a light at the end of the busy tunnel!)
This second question can be a doozy as it brings up all kinds of stuff for many of us – it can have our inner control freak kicking and screaming! I highly recommend getting the support of a coach or OBM to help you here if you go through your list and still have your name beside every task. An outside eye can often see what you can’t.
Question 3: How can I create more space?
At this point you should have a realistic list of what needs to be done in the next week or so. Now you want to ensure you have the space and time to get it done. Here are two of my favorite tips:
Plan ahead –book the time in your schedule to get stuff done. You might book in specific tasks, or you might book in time for types of tasks (ie: writing time, client time).
Set boundaries – distraction is the death of productivity. Be it team, clients, family or social media – every time you get distracted it takes you off track, and for many people it happens all day long! Close your door. Turn off your phone and email. Let people know when you aren’t available and when you are. And get really good at saying no (because they will test your boundaries!)
Question 4: Do I need to renegotiate any deadlines?
If you are truly in over your head and can’t get everything done, then you need to revise your deadlines with clients, team members or whoever may be waiting on you. I get that this sucks and you may hate having to do it, but it’s better for you to own up to something ahead of time vs. having people get upset with you because they are waiting/asking.
To simply say to someone “Hey, I got in over my head here and that’s on me. I won’t be able to get X to you until next Monday and wanted to let you know.” Yes, you might need to make concessions for being late if this affects their timelines.
Even if they are frustrated, people will respect you for stepping up and being real with what is going on – and quite often they are OK with adjusted timelines if they know ahead of time.
The beauty of these 4 questions is that you can use them over and again. Every time you find yourself too busy work through this process, and ideally overtime you won’t need to anymore.
When it comes to dealing with the stress of running a business, as entrepreneurs we will default into operating from one of 2 categories – Ostrich or Control Freak.
If you are an Ostrich, you default into avoidance mode. When challenges arise you put your head in the sand and cross your fingers, hoping that someone else will swoop in and save the day.
Ostriches generally don’t like, or understand, the “behind the scenes” stuff in business. In fact, you may hate it. So you tend to rely too much on other people for the answers and to do the work that needs to be done. You will hire and blindly trust people on a whim, assuming that whoever you hired is doing it right, which isn’t always the case and can lead to big issues. You may end up wasting time and money on hiring the wrong people, implementing the wrong systems and trying to fix mistakes down the road.
If you are a Control Freak, you default into do-it-all-myself mode. You keep too much on your plate, have a tough time delegating and end up working yourself to exhaustion.
A Control Freak comes from a place of believing that we do it best and that no one else could possibly do the work as well as we can. Although this might be true to a degree, it’s a dangerous place to be in as the Control Freak ends up doing it all! You spend so much time and energy on all the “behind the scenes” stuff, that you don’t have time to actually grow your business and deliver on your services. This leads to a lot of frustration, long working hours and ultimately, burnout.
So which one is your default mode in moments of stress & challenge?
(I’m a total control freak in moments of stress!)
It’s important to understand this about ourselves so that we don’t spend too much time on either “extreme” end of this spectrum – both of which can be damaging to your business health.
What we are aiming for is to be in the middle– to operate from a place of empowerment where you:
are aware of what it takes to run and grow your business (instead of putting your head in the sand)
have systems and a team in place that you know can get the job done (instead of trying to do it all yourself)
own your responsibility for running your business, and won’t settle for less than the best for everyone concerned (including yourself).
This is what it means to be the CEO of your business. To lead with skill & wisdom.
“I never thought it would be this hard – when do I get to the good part?”
I daresay it’s true that for most of us – this business journey is often harder than we expected it to be! But that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way…
Here are 5 ways you can make the ‘hard’ feel a bit easier.
Accept That It’s Supposed To Be Hard – this might sound funny to say, but it’s quite often our RESISTANCE to the fact that it’s hard which makes it harder. When you are on a journey of creating what matters you will be challenged – you will be stretched. You will have do things that you don’t want to do – that you wish you could skip over. Like learning to sell, setting up the right business structure or having to deal with a challenging team member. This is simply part of the gig – success is meant to be hard at times, but that doesn’t mean it has to be HARD. <– that is a choice.
Learn How To Say NO – some of the hardest times in my business journey have been when I said yes to something for the wrong reasons. When I said yes to a client or new project because they wanted me to do it for them and I didn’t want to let them down. When I committed myself to something in an already jam packed schedule and overextended myself. I said yes, regretted it and had to drag myself through it. Anytime we say yes when we really want to say no we are making things harder.
Ask For Help – speaking as a recovering control freak believe me I get it. The pull to DIY and take care of things myself is strong… it’s how I’m wired! Just because you can do it – and I know that you can – doesn’t mean you have to. I guarantee that there is something on your plate right now that you don’t have to be doing. Something that is hard simply because you don’t want to do it anymore or you don’t know how to do it but think you should. Let these things go so that you can do more of the stuff you enjoy.
Quit Wearing Busy As A Badge Of Honor – ask anyone how they are doing these days and you will generally hear them say “I’m so busy!” Busy is easily mistaken as a sign of success when quite often it’s simply a façade. A place to hide out when we are feeling afraid, uncertain or in abject terror around our business. The most successful people I know are NOT the busiest people I know.
“How often do we try to solve problems by doing more of what’s not working – doing it harder, grinding it out longer. We’ll do anything to avoid the lowest of the low – self examination” ~ Brene Brown, Rising Strong
Stop Working Weekends – I don’t care how much you love your work, if you never allow yourself to unplug from your business it will start to suck the life out of you. We all need time to rest & recharge, not only physically but mentally as well. Time for our brains to stop thinking about this project, that client, that idea, etc. Giving yourself at least one day a week – ideally two – can have a huge impact on the amount of energy and enthusiasm you are able to bring to your work. If you need some tips on how to make this happen, click here to check out how I set my schedule.
So let me ask you, what can you do this week to make things easier?